Check out my video of this poem!
About eight months ago, I began coming out as transgender.
I’ve received overwhelming support.
So many “I will always love yous,” and “you’re just Schuylers,” and “whatever makes you happys,”
This time, I’m standing in her room, the sobs just having taken over my body,
She says, “We all love you, there’s nothing to worry about, we all love and accept and support you!”
I just cry harder.
I’m at my admitted students weekend, hanging out with the swim teams because my job is now to decide which team I will swim for; men’s or women’s
You’d think that the support would make me feel comfortable and happy, but it doesn’t
Instead, I feel my stomach tying itself in knots, the self-hatred burning my body from the inside out.
I look at her. I know she doesn’t understand why I’m still crying, but her eyes are concerned and ready to say whatever it is I need to here.
When I catch my breath, I say, staring at the floor, “Everyone accepts me so readily here. And it just makes me realize how much I don’t.”
She just hugs me because there isn’t much you can say to that.
My mind continues spinning: it’s taken me 18 years to even be able to form the words “I am transgender” aloud and it’s taken the team all of a couple minutes to tell me they love and support me and that it doesn’t change a thing
So I yearn for the haters. For someone tell me I’m wrong, that I should learn how to change myself, that I am some sort of freak
I wish I could hate someone else as much I hate me
Because then I could hate someone else; because then I wouldn’t have to hate myself
I want my best friend to be able to pick on him, this kid who is mean to me, who tells me that I don’t deserve to know who I am
That I am not allowed to take testosterone because it isn’t natural
That other people can but I can’t
This kid, who tells me that if I’m not going to be a successful swimmer and achieve the goals I set for myself 6 years ago, then I shouldn’t live anymore
I wish this kid would shut up,
I wish I could fight him, maybe then I’d finally have a sense of belonging and entitlement,
I wish he would tell me that I was all okay
But most of all, I wish that this kid didn’t have my name
Because when I beat him up, I’m the one who winds up with hands full of bruises, mouthfuls of my own blood
When I tell him to go fuck himself, I’m the one who crawls into a hole
When I push him, I’m the one who falls,
And when I tell him I wish he was dead, I’m the one with the rope around my neck.
I used to write poems and poems about jumping.
Feeling my body drop through the air – and then, nothing.
About dying and hoping someone would cover the body.
About giving up.
I’m red-faced, holding an ice pack to my shoulder, sitting in her office as she tells me, “You made a bad decision drinking this weekend, my friend.”
My head falls in embarrassment as I nod and say, “yea, I know.”
“But when you’re drunk, your truest insecurities spill,” She points out
I nod again.
We talk for about an hour. Or rather, she talks at me.
I don’t say much because I don’t have much to say; she’s right.
My actions speak for me: I want to swim on the men’s team.
I keep saying I’ll stay on the women’s because… well, because.
She tells me that I’m standing at the edge of a cliff.
And, I actually have a harness on. But I don’t know that.
Or, I keep forgetting it.
Either way, I just need to jump.
I remember how I used to feel every letter of that word pulsing through my veins, standing on the balcony, looking out at the street below.
I remember feeling the tears slipping down my face, over the railing, and wondering if I’d follow them in a few seconds.
I still feel like that sometimes.
Jump is a weird word.
We used to call my cousin that when he was in his mom’s womb. Because he jumped around.
Someone can jump up and down with excitement.
Someone can jump to their death.
Or someone could “jump” because they’re scared.
There are lots of ways to jump.
But to me, it’s always been to die.
Jump off the roof, jump off the balcony.
There was some sort of solace in certain death.
Some sort of comfort in giving up and not having to brave life anymore.
But I do not want to die.
I’m just scared to live.
And like my coach says, I must hurdle into the unknown, into the new
Taking a dive over a cliff that I don’t recognize.
Plummet into unknown waters that could be filled with sharks or mermaids
Perhaps it’s freezing but perfectly clear
Or maybe it’s the perfect temperature but murky
I don’t know how deep the water is; I don’t know if it will catch me.
But the ocean looks beautiful and inviting.
It’s new and exciting…
But there is safety on this cliff.
There is safety in certain misery, there security in the known and chartered.
“You’ve got the harness and you just need to jump,” she says again.
I leave her office. This time I’m not crying.
I am not wondering where my tears are falling.
The word “jump” still pulses through my veins: thump-jump, thump-jump
But this is a new kind of jump.
This jump will not end my life, in fact, it might finally start it.
This jump is not giving up.
This jump is trying everything I can do to be me, to be true.
This jump is not comforting, like the balcony jump.
This jump is not known or understood.
My foot is on the edge of the cliff,
I take a deep breath in, and I exhale the past
And then I’m off the ground, leaving the old goals lingering in the air I’ve left behind, letting them morph into new ones as I fall.
Maybe this is the jump I’ve been dreaming of.